By Steve Laser
The all-new Toyota Land Cruiser 250 that premiered in Japan this week is an exciting addition to the lineup, with sales planned across the globe, including a welcome return of the nameplate to the North American market.
The Land Cruiser 250 essentially replaces the long-running Prado in the lineup. Yet instead of abandoning the heritage of the name, the new 250 will be called Land Cruiser Prado in Europe and Australia. Meanwhile, it will simply become the Land Cruiser for America.
Land Cruiser enthusiasts in Japan will also rejoice in the return of the 70 Series (above center), that receives a number of upgrades, in a market that also currently offers the flagship 300 Series wagon (above left).
With a look that’s instantly recognizable as a Land Cruiser, Toyota gives the new 250 a choice of retro or modern expressions. For example, models with round headlights and two-tone exteriors bring to mind the FJ Cruiser, while those with rectangular lighting and monotone paint look more contemporary.
When crafting the new style for the 250, designers started with functional cues inspired by Land Cruisers of the past. These mid-stage idea sketches (above) highlight the cabin and body with separated bumpers, modular fenders, big wheels, and optimized outward visibility.
The lowered beltline is designed to assist the driver’s view of the landscape to the sides of the vehicle, while the hood is angled to improve the view forward, with a dropped center portion and raised corners. Recessed lower door panels and chamfered corners of the body aim to improve maneuverability in tight spaces.
To help reduce contact with branches and other obstacles during off-road driving, lights have been placed high and centered (Prado shown above). The style also brings to mind Land Cruiser models of the past.
Like the current Land Cruiser 300, the new 250 rides on the Toyota GA-F platform, designed to improve ride and handling while driving on- and off-road, with 50 percent increased frame rigidity and 30 percent improved overall rigidity.
Toyota plans to offer several different powertrains to meet market needs, including the first hybrid for a Land Cruiser. For Japan, a 2.7-liter gas engine is teamed with 6 Super-ECT, while Europe, Japan, and other markets can select a 2.8-liter turbo-diesel with Direct Shift-8AT. North American models feature a 2.4-liter gas turbo hybrid with Direct Shift-8AT. Western Europe and Australia offer a turbo-diesel 48V mild hybrid system. (Situation design sketch above)
The Land Cruiser 250 also receives Electric Power Steering (EPS), plus improved suspension performance with high-mount double-wishbone front suspension and a trailing link rear axle. A new driver-activated Stabilizer Disconnect Mechanism (SDM) is said to improve ride comfort off-road and handling on-road. While a Multi-Terrain Monitor and Multi-Terrain Select systems offer enhanced functionality for off-road driving support. (Situation design sketch above)
Toyota says that in a fusion of traditional and modern, the interior styling, like the exterior, is focused on the key words of “reliable” (as in the ability to withstand hard use), “timeless” (simplicity to remain a favorite), and “professional” (with functional beauty like professional tools).
The interior is designed to pursue safety as a full-fledged off-roader, functionality that leads to less fatigue, and a high-quality space for overall comfort and enjoyment. The reduced upright A-pillars, low cowl and upper portion of the instrument panel aid forward visibility, along with the previously mentioned hood design and lower beltline. (Advanced concept design sketch above)
A palm rest below the center screen is said to assist stable touchscreen operation while driving. Toggle switches and push-buttons below the screen offer ease of use for various features. Toyota says that the Multi-Terrain Selector (MTS) operability was examined based on the opinions of professional rally drivers.
MTS offers six modes for off-road driving support: Auto, Dirt, Sand, Mud, Deep Snow, and Rock, to optimize drive power, braking, and suspension control. The new Auto mode automatically selects a secure driving mode based on information from sensors. All off-road content is aggregated and displayed on a single screen for ease of use. (Early idea design sketch above)
The Land Cruiser 250 also includes the latest Toyota Safety Sense package, with improved functions and advanced features.
Land Cruiser 70
Toyota plans to return the long-running Land Cruiser 70 to its lineup in Japan. The 70 Series has continued in production for more than 30 years, and remains a popular choice in Australia and other markets.
The upgraded 70 Series for Japan gains a 2.8-liter turbo-diesel engine teamed with a 6-speed Super ECT. The powertrain is said to provide high torque, low noise, a quiet ride and improved fuel economy.
The new 70 Series is also treated to revised front styling, and is likely to receive updates in safety features, as well. The instrument panel and center console also look refreshed, and additional enhancements are expected for interior comfort, infotainment and connectivity.
Land Cruiser 300
The Land Cruiser 300, redesigned two years ago, remains the flagship model for Japan and other markets. With its heritage-inspired styling, the 300 rides on the GA-F platform, offers twin-turbo V6 engines, a 10-speed automatic transmission, and a luxurious interior.
Designed with the concept of “functional beauty,” the Land Cruiser 300 sports bold good looks, with clean lines and a rugged stance. During its redesign, it also received a new suspension system, offers available Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension, and a Multi-Terrain Monitor.
Those seeking more sporty luxury can select a GR Sport model, fitted with upgrades like matte gray alloy wheels, blacked-out exterior trim, and a GR-inspired front fascia. The grille, with oversized TOYOTA script, along with sleek LED headlights, give it a dynamic appearance.
The interior provides comfortable seating with two- and three-row versions. High-tech infotainment and connectivity features include a 12.3-inch touchscreen with Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay®, multiple USB ports, and a head-up display.
Note: The 250 and 70 Series Land Cruiser models shown in this story are prototypes. Features and specifications are subject to change without notice. (The new Land Cruiser 70 and 300 Series are not available in America.)
News sources and photos courtesy of Toyota Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Europe
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